The Republican Party of Sarasota County is turning to social media and online networking to try to stem gains Democrats made during the 2008 election.
Republican Party Chairman Joe Gruters announced last week the formation of an “Internet Infantry Unit.”
“We’re trying to get people tapped into the social-media craze, Facebook and Twitter,” he said. “Not everyone wants to come to the party headquarters to make calls. This is a different way to help the party.”
Gruters wants Republicans to develop extensive e-mail, Facebook-friend and Twitter-feed lists, so they can spread news of interest to party members.
“More and more people are getting their news from non-traditional media,” he said.
The party chairman hopes the Internet Infantry Unit will fire up party members and get them to the polls in future elections.
Gruters cites the tremendous presence President Barack Obama had on the Internet leading up to the 2008 election.
“(Sen. John) McCain won the county by just 300 votes,” he said. “We don’t want to give up any more ground to the Democrats.”
Rita Ferrandino, Sarasota County Democratic Party chairwoman, is not impressed with the new strategy.
“Good candidates with strong positions that serve voters is what wins elections, not Internet connectivity,” she said.
The Democratic Party leader said it takes years to build an extensive database of names for e-mail and social-media sites.
“That 2008 election was not the result of something we turned a switch on,” said Ferrandino. “(Gruters) is right. He’s behind the eight-ball.”
But Gruters believes Republicans can quickly make gains.
“We want to take something the Democrats did in 2008 and make them pay by doing it better,” he said.
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